Covid-19 Garda checkpoint in Laois during the first weekend of the lockdown
People have been exceptional in complying with the Covid-19 restrictions according to the top Garda in Laois and Offaly who has urged the public to continue to comply.
Speaking ahead of the announcement of Operation Fanacht Chief Superintendent John Scanlan, who also oversees policing in Kildare, also warned criminals that the lockdown restrictions also apply to them.
“People have been amazingly and exceptionally good. People have been very tolerant of each other in difficult times...Communities have been outstanding in supporting each other. We have had huge assistance.
“We are engaged in community calls and there are many elderly people who are self-isolating and cocooning,” he said. The chief superintendent said the lockdown is understandably very difficult but it is not a case of the public being told to do something.
“It is what we must do. We all have to put our shoulders to the wheel. We are all being asked to do something for our country, for your community, neighbours, friends and families. That is the challenge. That you are not just doing this for yourself, you are doing this for everybody,” he said.
He urged anybody who requires help to ring their local garda station and either a garda or someone involved in the community assistance will get to them. He said there are people who may have not heard from anyone in a number of days who should seek support.
Checkpoints have been the most obvious sign of the altered garda response to the crisis. He said they are a message to people to stay at home.
“Checkpoints delay people. If people are out and about then they shouldn’t be. They may be delaying a health worker in the queue behind them at a checkpoint,” he said.
He said the checkpoints would continue and more gardaí are being deployed to policing the lockdown.
“We will be out in bigger numbers than ever before this Easter weekend. We certainly are going to have to continue to ensure that people continue to self-isolate as well as offering assistance and community safety and reassurance to people in this difficult period,” he said.
In terms of the number, he said about 40 were redeployed to Laois and Offaly. Alongside this, all gardaí were put on 12-hour shifts and the number of units has been reduced.
“We have 25% extra on the street at any one time,” he said. While there have been some incidents and criminality, the garda said there has been a “huge drop” in the volume of crime.
However, he also said new policing powers are now available to gardaí to carry out specific actions needed to enforce the lockdown. He had a warning for anybody thinking of breaking the law.
“We are continuing to arrest criminals. We have stopped a volume of criminals out and about. They need to understand that the law applies to them as well. They need to self-isolate. We are targeting criminals and they need to understand that,” he said.
Chief Supt Scanlan urged the entire community to stick with the lockdown especially this week.
“I would ask that given that is Easter and the weather will continue to be fine that they would continue to self-isolate”.